Jonathan Dwyer: Realistic Fantasy Expectations for Steelers RB in Week 7

Ryan DavenportContributor IOctober 19, 2012

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 16:  Jonathan Dwyer #27 of the Pittsburgh Steelers carries the ball against the New York Jets during the game on September 16, 2012 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The Steelers defeated the Jets 27-10.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

For the third time this season, the Pittsburgh Steelers will begin a game with a new starting running back. 

That's because, according to ESPN, "Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles') and Isaac Redman (ankle) did not practice Friday and won't play in Cincinnati on Sunday night." 

With Redman and Mendenhall out, it's former Georgia Tech star Jonathan Dwyer who appears to be the Steelers' No. 1 option in the backfield for Pittsburgh's Week 7 match-up against the Bengals.

Now that Dwyer seems to be a near-lock to get the call for his first career start on Sunday night in Cincinnati, fantasy owners will want to know what they can expect from the third-year back. 

Luckily for Dwyer, he'll be going up against a Bengals defense that has been among the worst in the league against the run in 2012, so there's some potential for a breakout performance. 

Thus far, Dwyer's been inconsistent during his three seasons with the Steelers—and still hasn't picked up his first career touchdown—but that could change on Sunday. 

In Week 1 against Denver, Dwyer showed some promise, rushing for 48 yards and catching two passes for another 11, but followed that up by gaining just 28 yards on 12 carries against the Jets in Week 2. 

He also didn't do himself any favors in Week 3, as his fumble against Oakland appeared to put him in hot water with head coach Mike Tomlin—Dwyer hasn't entered a game since then. 

Now, with Mendenhall and Redman out, Dwyer will probably get the majority of the carries, and though the Steelers may go with a more pass-oriented approach on Sunday, he should be good for at least 50 yards on the ground, and potentially 70-80 all-purpose yards. 

If all goes well, the 23-year-old will run for his first-ever touchdown and help the Steelers get back to .500, but don't expect Dwyer to be a fantasy star in his first career start.